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A Complete Guide to ‘Game of Thrones’s Infamous Red Wedding

The Lannisters send their regards

The red wedding -- Game of thrones

There are several plot points—and so consequentially several scenes—that have helped solidify Game of Thrones as an iconic piece of television. Especially in the show’s first five seasons, when the storyline was still closely following George R.R. Martin’s books before driving completely off a cliff—but let’s not get too caught up in the tragic ending of GoT once again. It’s in the past, it can’t hurt us, it’s time to let it go.

So, we were saying—iconic scenes. This being Game of Thrones, of course “iconic” is more often than not synonymous with “brutal” or “shocking”—just think of when they actually did chop Ned Stark’s head off to really hammer home the idea that there was no plot armour to be found, for anyone. And I think that if we were making a ranking of iconic Game of Thrones scenes the whole sequence that marks the demise of Robb Stark and the Northern army would rank pretty high up.

Oh Robb, babe. Your curls were too perfect for the cruel world of Westeros (HBO)

The infamous Red Wedding is a massive plot point in the third book of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Storm of Swords. The setting is the wedding celebrations of Roslin Frey, one of the many children of Lord Walder Frey of the Twins, and Lord Edmure Tully of Riverrun, Catelyn’s brother—Edmure taking the place Robb should have occupied when Catelyn had bargained his hand in exchange for safe passage across the Green Fork of the Trident. Robb, however, has married the noblewoman Jayne Westerling, whom he met during his war in the South, and so he hopes to appease Lord Walder by having his uncle fulfill the marriage alliance in his stead. And we all know that things don’t really go according to plan.

The wedding feast, which we read through Catelyn’s point of view, occupies all of the Twins—with a ceremony for the nobles taking place in the main hall and more merriment happening throughout the Stark camp outside of the fortress. There are, of course, musicians, who play a wide repertoire of popular Westerosi songs like “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”—and all seems to be going fairly well until the music switches to “The Rains of Castamere,” the song composed to remember Lord Tywin Lannister’s annihilation of House Reyne, a vassal of House Lannister.

And that’s the signal every Frey man at arms was expecting to start slaughtering all Northmen, from foot soldiers to nobles—including Robb Stark, the King in the North himself, whom Roose Bolton stabs, and Catelyn Tully, whose throat is cut by one of Walder Frey’s sons.

The same event is portrayed in the ninth episode of Season 3 of Game of Thrones—really starting the whole tradition of “episode nine being the goriest and bloodiest of the entire season”—which is aptly titled “The Rains of Castamere.” There are some minor changes, which accommodate the different directions some storylines have taken in the show—like Oona Chaplin’s Talisa Maegyr, who is Robb’s wife and queen in place of Jayne Westerling.

The event—which was anticipated with both delight and dread by book readers, especially if they had non-book readers friends who had no idea what they were headed into—was a major watershed moment both in-universe and extradiegetically. Within the story, the demise of Robb Stark marked the Lannister victory in the War of the Five Kings, as well as the defection of the Boltons from their liege lords to Tywin—which opens up the whole Ramsay storyline at Winterfell.

Ramsay Bolton looks at dog before he is eaten in GOT
At least we know how his story ends (HBO)

In the books, the Red Wedding is also a catalyst of Northern rage, because, as we’ve been told times and times again, “the North remembers.” It’s been hinted throughout the books that follow A Storm of Swords that there might be something afoot in the North, with many lords seemingly conspiring to avenge what happened at the Twins and restore the Starks to their rightful seat in Winterfell—fans call it “the Great Northern Conspiracy.” It’s awesome. I wish we had The Winds of Winter on our hands to see if we’re right or not.

The Red Wedding marked the last we saw of beloved characters that had been with us since Season 1, like Robb and Catelyn—and also reminded us all once again that none of our faves was safe. Until Season 5, that is—then it’s a free-for-all plot armour sale all the way until Season 8.

(image: HBO)

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Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading. She loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. A Targaryen stan first and a human second. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.